Photo of the Day
|Hippos and fish eagle at Argyle Dam|
2 x leopards (Argyle Jnr’s 6-week old cubs) – Peru, Sohebele Dam
2 x elephants – Mbali, Western Cutline
1 x elephant bull – Argyle, Mpisi Khaya Rd
Hello hello! And welcome back to the Motswari Blog! Hope you have all been well and apologies for the lack of updates the last two weeks, but without game drives, all you would have seen was photos of us digging sand and fixing roads...oh yes, and playing poker!
So we received our first guests yesterday, but as they preferred to chill and relax in camp on the first afternoon, today was the first time we went out, and while I was keen to get back into the bush, I knew that it was going to be a difficult job, with only 5 or 6 vehicles in the whole reserve (only myself and one other guide in the north), and a severely damaged and depleted road network, but as my guests were very relaxed, I could afford to take it easy.
As John had reported a leopard walking through camp just before 4am in the morning, we went to look for him, and while we followed his tracks for a while, he walked a big circle and we eventually gave up – we did see some impala and a lone wildebeest on the airstrip, but little else.
|Impala and wildebeest|
Arriving at Argyle Dam, we spent time watching the large pod of hippos in the dam, and there must be around 20 in there at the moment! A troop of baboons came past, and bird life was great, we even got to see a fish eagle catch a fish!
|Argyle Dam - a paradise in the north|
Despite rhino being found in the west, we carried on and enjoyed some nice birds, more impala and being out in the bush alone. Petros then started sniffing the air and turned to tell me that he could smell something...something like a leopard, and before he could get the words out, Sarah, one of the guests, said “look at the cubs”, and there jumping off the road and into the long grass ahead of us were two small leopard cubs, no more than 6-8 weeks old, and still black in colour! It was literally a glimpse, but it was still the first glimpse of Argyle Jnr’s two newest cubs, and in an area far south of where she normally raises her cubs, raising questions about who the father is!
We tried to look for her with no luck, and then left the area, not wanting to put pressure on the cubs, and we went for coffee instead.
Following that, we headed to Java to look for a herd of elephants, but only found a herd of giraffes and more impalas. On the airstrip, there was a herd of wildebeest, but no sign of the elephants, and after some nice warthogs, we headed back to the north.
We did eventually find two young bull elephants and more giraffe before closing down.
|Elephant and giraffe|
The afternoon was sadly a bit of a dismal performance, and there was very little to speak of. Hippos in Argyle Dam and Voel dam, a lone elephant that popped up while we were watching some warthogs, a lone waterbuck, a lone kudu and scattered herds of impalas were all that greeted us.
|Impalas in a field of wild lavendar and an eephant joins a warthog family|
I tried for the Xinatsi Hyena Clan’s den site on the tar road near Voel Dam, but it was a bit early in the evening and none of them were out (Shaddrack later saw 8 hyenas sleeping on the road outside the den). The best part of the drive was a wonderful sundowner drink at Giraffe Kill Lookout, and while the reeds have all been washed away, along with Mbali Dam, it was still a lovely spot with the water still trickling down the Nhlaralumi.
Heading back in the dark was a bit of a nightmare, as every road we drove on was terribly eroded and made the journey back slow and bumpy, and really brought home to me just how much work needs to be done out there! The seeplines are still soaking wet, so off-road driving is a real no-go in many areas for some time to come!
Still, just being out there was good; I have the morning off tomorrow, but shall be back on drive in the afternoon, so hoping that our luck turns around then!